ESPN continues its countdown of the NBA’s top players for the upcoming season, revealing numbers 50 through 11 on Wednesday morning. But does Charlotte Hornets star point guard LaMelo Ball make the list?
Checking in at number 48 is Ball, the only member of the Hornets to make the list. Ball’s ranking, happens to be seven spots lower than his rank this time last year (41). A combination of injuries, which led to a high volume of games missed, in addition to a drop in efficiency, led to him falling closer to 50 than 40.
"“A series of ankle injuries limited Ball to 36 games and dropped the Hornets toward the cellar. Ball’s per-game stats improved from 2021-22, when he made his All-Star debut at age 20, but he inevitably suffered what ESPN’s Zach Lowe described as a “looseness” to his game at both ends.”"
With this in mind, it is not all that surprising to see Ball drop a few spots on this list. It is hard to justify anything else. Ball needs to play significantly more games and tighten things up when he is on the floor.
Not all is lost when it comes to Ball’s placement on this list. It is noted that it is possible for the former third-overall pick could see himself in a better spot next year. A combination of playing more games than last season and a better-supporting cast could lead to better numbers for Ball, as well as the Hornets this season.
"“Ball has healed up and just recently turned 22, an age at which players develop rapidly. With the return of Miles Bridges(after his 10-game suspension for pleading no contest on a felony charge of domestic violence), Ball will have more support. He’s an easy bet to move up next year.”"
The path for Ball to move up this list next year is right in front of him. Ball certainly has the talent, and the roster should be in a better position to take pressure off of their best player. All Ball has to do is play up to his potential and lead the Hornets to a better record this season. If he can accomplish that, there is a very real possibility that Ball will move up higher than his previous ranking of 41st and into at least the Top 40.